Thursday, March 26, 2015

Networking for Success!

Here is a common scenario which virtually everyone has encountered at some point in their lives: you need a new job or some career advice, and you're unsure who to turn to or where to go for help. One commonly overlooked and often underutilized tool to help with this is networking!

Networking involves sharing knowledge and contacts, helping others, and building relationships. Networking is NOT bluntly asking those you know to give you a job! This is an important distinction because many people make the mistake of thinking that networking is a way for others to do the work for you when really networking is simply a tool to help make your life easier through reciprocation - helping others and getting help in return. 

In order to utilize the people in your network for job search help or career preparation information, you firstly need to identify who your network is. Is it composed of coworkers, managers, teachers, or maybe even your neighbors? Your network can come from anywhere and can encompass a wide variety of people with different areas of expertise. Most people only begin to reach out to this network when they are in need of career help, but it is crucial to maintain these relationships even when you have found the job of your dreams, as you never know when you will be in need of help, especially in today's unpredictable job market.

Secondly, perspective matters! A good way to view your network is like writing a resume; it is a continuous process which requires updating, attention, and individual effort in order to thrive. By viewing it as an ongoing process, you will always be in the loop with those in your network, and because of this, they will be happy to help you when you are in need. If you ignore those in your network until you need something, they may not be as eager to give you a hand. 

Finally, be sure to effectively utilize online platforms for networking. This is especially useful for contacts from past jobs or those people in your network who have moved away or whom you don't see often. Platforms like LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook can all be used to stay connected with your network and are extremely effective in regards to expanding the network you currently have. One important note is not to randomly network; always have a strategy or a reason for why you are reaching out to someone, in order to utilize these online platforms appropriately and effectively during career development and job hunting.

As the old saying goes, it's not always what you know, but who you know! Using these simple tips, you will be on your way to developing and utilizing your network as effectively as possible to enhance the caliber of job opportunities that come your way and to help with career development. Happy Networking everybody!

Scarlet Stark, 3rd Year Psychology Major, Career Assistant 

Monday, March 23, 2015

Go Brand Yourself!

In today’s competitive job market, the ability to stand out in a crowd can help set you apart from your competitors and put you “ahead of the game”. Whether you’re looking to develop or advance your career, personal branding plays a critical role in either process. The beauty of a personal brand is that every single person has one whether you consciously acknowledge it as your “brand” or not.

Your personal brand is an authentic compilation of your reputation, legacy (how others remember you), your expertise, and the relationships you make. In other words, it is embedded primarily in who you are and what you aspire to be. Through the process of creating a personal brand you find out how to bring more value to the work that you do and the target market you intend to serve, thus creating a consistent professional image you can market to your audience. The key to your personal brand is identifying and communicating your unique promise of value that sets you apart from your competitors.

There are three key steps to knowing your personal brand:
  1. KNOW YOURSELF: As ridiculous as it may sound, defining who you are is an essential component of creating your personal brand. Know your values, passions, skills, strengths and limitations, and identify what your mission in life is. Once you clearly define these aspects of who you are, you can start owning the business of YOU by communicating your unique brand.
  2. FIND YOUR PEOPLE: Who are you going to communicate your brand to? Consider what makes your brand unique, and what services your skill-set provides to others. Be sure to strategically target an audience that your brand will captivate.
  3. DEVELOP AND CULTIVATE YOUR NICHE: It’s important that the personal brand you develop is an authentic representation of your goals and who you are as a person. Live your brand in everything that you do, from the way you dress to the way that you communicate yourself in online spaces.
Investing the time in this process is a long-term investment in your future success. If you don’t create a brand yourself, you risk being branded by other people. Take control of your unique career path and how your target audience sees the promise of your individual value.

Happy branding!

Kaitlyn Daw
4th Year English Language and Literature Major
Career Assistant

Thursday, March 19, 2015

LinkedIn 101

Just created your LinkedIn profile and wondering what to do next?  To get the most out of it, it is important your LinkedIn profile is as complete as possible.  Here are some tips to get you started…
  • Your Profile Picture: Although you may like the picture of yourself at that party on Friday night it is not an appropriate picture for your LinkedIn profile. Your photo should be professional and not with friends or of anything without YOU in it. According to LinkedIn professional profile photos are 7 times more likely to be found in searches.
  • Your Summary: Keep it professional. Speak to your goals, qualifications, and your experiences and use key words/skills relevant to your industry to help others find you.
  • Your Experiences: Avoid copying and pasting your resume or job descriptions but try to summarize each position using key words and relevant skills. If possible upload examples of your work/projects you’ve been working on to further showcase your experiences and achievements.

Stay relevant by updating your profile on a regular basis with your professional activities. Doing so will keep you on people’s radars and update potential employers on your most recent career advancements and achievements. Those with complete profiles are 40x more likely to receive opportunities through LinkedIn, so it is well worth spending 5 minutes to update your profile!

Connecting with People on LinkedIn

You’ve created a profile and have finished updating it, now it’s time to network and connect with people. When sending other users invitations to join their network never send the standard LinkedIn request.  If you’ve met before mention a few details about where and when you met. Additionally, be sure to mention why you want to connect whether it be for career advice or they work in an industry/company that you are interested in. 

Stop by the Career Resource Centre for all your LinkedIn questions and for more resources on how you can make the best LinkedIn profile possible!

Mike Pratas, 
Political Science Major
Senior Career Assistant

Friday, March 13, 2015

Business Cards - Benefits of Using Them

Business cards are great - they allow you to connect with people and give you the opportunity to leave a lasting impression, through your personal brand summarized on your card along with your contact information. Meeting new people and making new connections is a vital component of both career search and career growth; quite often, acquirement of a job and advancement in a career comes down to who you know not what you know. Basic human error, as always, complicates this! People make mistakes, get caught up in the moment, and forget names, people, and conversations. A business card serves as a reminder of who you are, what your brand is, and your contact information.

"A person's name is to him or her the sweetest and 
most important sound in any language." - Dale Carnegie

What I mean by personal brand is the style, design, and purpose of your business card. Sure, you could have a plain-as-day business card with just your name and contact information on a white background, but often it is the style and design of the business card that outlines the purpose of it. It reflects your own, or your company's values, and differentiates yourself or your company from others. Is it visually appealing? Is it simple, yet elegant? Or is it cluttered with information? Do you include a picture of yourself on it, or a quote that summarizes your personal brand? Or is it a standard business card that all employees at your company use? Is it too professional, or not professional enough?

This is a great example of a very-unique card... it looks like Google!
Here are some benefits of using business cards:

- Helps new connections remember you
- Grows your network/business
- Reflects your personal brand
- Reflects your company values
- Differentiates you from the competition
- Conveys contact info
- Opportunity to demonstrate your creativity!
- Shows professionalism and legitimacy
- Enter business-card raffles at restaurants
- ... And so much more

There are plenty of benefits to having a business card, even if you do not have a job yet. As a student or someone looking for work a business card is a way to make connections, to help new connections remember you, and to demonstrate professionalism and legitimacy for yourself. As someone with a job, a business card is a way to help you advance in your career much in the same way that someone without a job would use them. Business cards are not just for business either - a teacher could find use of a business card as well. They are very applicable to nearly every profession.

They are also very cheap to make! It is economical, even on a student budget, to use websites such as to order a few hundred business cards with plenty of options for design. Many universities offer these services to students, including Brock! With so many benefits, it is worth considering getting some business cards to help promote yourself, and protect yourself from human error!

Anthony Mancuso
Honours Bachelor of Sport Management - Year 3
Senior Career Assistant 

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Being Social Media Savvy

Your online presence in relation to today's job market can have a critical impact how people perceive you. Social media has become a part of a lot of things we do in life. We share some of our most important events, share photos of our lives, and lastly use it as a form of communication to people all around the world. Whether you currently use your social media platforms to your career advantage or not, you certainly have a presence.

If you are looking to make the most out of your Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, and other social media pages, you have come to the right article. It feels amazing to be confident online with the content and information you share, so much so you might even include a link to your social media pages on your resume or in your career portfolio! The following are 5 tips to help you become savvy and resourceful online:

1) Have inspiration:

Have you ever seen a social media page that has blown you away? You suddenly seem to know everything about the person, and they seem extremely professional in the way they showcase themselves. The first tip is to seek out inspiring pages that you could see yourself producing to enhance your career. There are thousands of people today who are not only using social media for their career advantage, but also actually making money from there social media platforms, why not try it yourself?

2) Be consistent in your personal brand:

Your personal brand is extremely important when constructing your social media pages. You want to make sure you are posting about the same content (for example, if you are in the Education field, you want to post about related resources, articles, webpages etc. You will not however want to post about Business, since that is not who you are.

3) Stay active:

Staying active are your accounts attracts people to keep an eye on your pages. You can also learn a lot about your field by looking for things to write or repost about! Along with this, make sure you Retweet, Follow, and Like influential organizations in your field.

4) Appearance:

This is a given... but you want all your social media pages to be free of unprofessional or inappropriate material. If that means deleting an account and starting a new one, it may be the best option for you instead of going through all your material.  

5) Know your social media platform:

This is my last tip for you. Knowing your social media platform and how people use it is the most powerful knowledge you can have when marketing and highlighting yourself online. There are many different platforms that support so many different ways of marketing. Between hashtags, tagging, liking, tweeting, reposting, and other social media actions, you want to learn the ones that best help you on that platform. Click here for info on a wide range of platforms from the 60 Second Marketer!

Alysha-Lynn Kooter, Senior Career Assistant, 3rd Year Visual Arts and Education, Brock University

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Networking: What it Really is and Why it Matters

Networking is an intimidating beast - what is it exactly and why do we do it? Most importantly, what does networking really mean? This blog post will hopefully answer some of these questions, as networking means something different for each individual.

Networking in its most basic definition is making professional connections. These connections can be made by meeting new people and developing professional relationships with those you already know. You can network through your education, via your classmates, professors, teaching assistants, and other faculty. You can also network through employers, via your employees, your supervisors, and through liaison with other organizations.

There are also events designed specifically to network, where professionals from a field or industry all gather to make connections.

Networking is much more than just making professional connections, however. Aside from the professional aspect of networking, it is making a friend or acquaintance in your personal network. It is promoting your brand (who you are as a person), rather than making connections. Networking ensures that you are, as a person, a part of the whole. I like to follow a quote, that puts it in perspective as to why we network:

"No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main." ~ John Donne (1572-1631)

Its benefits are numerous and impossible to list off without having the world's longest blog post, but here are a few important benefits to networking:
- becoming more known in your industry
- future work prospects
- friendships with a professional bridge
- free advertising for your company, product, and most importantly your brand
- growing a list of professional connections in your industry
- gaining knowledge and different perspectives in your industry
- opportunity to access the hidden job market
- mentoring opportunities (opportunity to be mentored or to mentor)
- practice in socializing
- professional development opportunities

... and so much more.

I encourage you to read fellow CA Becky White's post on creating your own personal brand (click here).

Anthony Mancuso
Honours Bachelor of Sport Management - Year 3
Senior Career Assistant